Solich gets Ohio ready for test against No. 2 OSU
In nearly 30 years at Nebraska as a player, assistant coach and the final six as head coach, Frank Solich saw many upstarts come to Lincoln in search of a signature nonconference victory against the highly ranked Cornhuskers.
Whether it was Louisiana Tech (56-27), San Jose State (49-13) or Rice (48-3), the result was always the same during his tenure - a Nebraska win.
Solich made sure of that with a typical speech to the team: ''Fellas, you can't control what comes into our stadium. I have no idea how they are going to play, but I do know this- if we play up to our capabilities we'll be fine against anybody we play.''
He's taken a slightly different approach now that he's often on the other side of the equation as the coach at Ohio, which plays No. 2 Ohio State in Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
''It's a matter of building confidence in your players,'' said Solich, who took over the Bobcats in 2005. ''If you don't have that belief going in, there's no way you're going to beat a top program.
''You can only control how well you play and how well you execute and how physical a football game you play. If you're the underdog and do all those things, hopefully it gives you a chance to be in the ball game and let it come down to the fourth quarter.''
Replacing legendary Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne after his retirement following the 1997 season, Solich earned Nebraska six straight bowl appearances, including a 37-14 loss in the 2001 BCS National Championship Game to Miami.
He had a 9-3 record in 2003 that included losses to Texas (31-7) and Kansas State (38-9) before being dismissed prior to the Alamo Bowl, despite a 58-19 record (.753).
The 66-year-old returned to the Buckeye State, where he was an all-state running back at Holy Name High School in Parma Heights near Cleveland.
Like many of the athletes he recruits today, he didn't get an offer from Ohio State. Apparently his small size didn't match the style of coach Woody Hayes.
''They were 3 yards and a bucket of blood or a cloud of smoke, whatever you want to call it,'' he said. ''They lined up and pounded you. I don't think I fit what they were looking for in a running back, but Nebraska ended up being a good fit for me.''
He was an All-Big Eight fullback in 1965 and nobody questioned his toughness. It's a trait he carried into coaching.
''He wants hard-nosed football,'' Ohio junior linebacker Eric Benjamin said. ''That's my kind of football.''
Solich is 33-32 with Ohio after a 20-13 loss to Toledo last week dropped the Bobcats to 1-1. Ohio was 9-5 last fall and won the MAC East title.
''They're gritty. They're tough. They reflect Frank Solich,'' Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.
Ohio senior cornerback Julian Posey said Solich's big-game experiences have helped the team prepare for challenges such as the 2008 game at Ohio State that the Bobcats led in the fourth quarter before losing 26-14.
''He's pretty old school, but he has a calm demeanor,'' Posey said. ''He preaches a lot to not back down and play together. Playing for a guy like that, you have a lot of respect for him.''